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Wild Flag

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Album Review

Is it possible to have a supergroup without any posturing? In Wild Flag's case, the answer is a resounding yes. This meeting of Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss, Helium's Mary Timony, and the Minders, Rebecca Cole came with high expectations, and on their self-titled debut, Wild Flag not only lives up to them, but challenges them, too. Women haven’t rocked out like this since the ‘90s heyday of the members’ previous bands, and nearly every track here is filled with ovaries-to-the wall guitar work as well as Weiss' formidable drumming. Yet Wild Flag doesn’t feel retro in the slightest; this collaboration is more interesting than straightforward reunions of any of the bands involved, and offers an inspired balance of everyone’s strengths. Weiss, Brownstein, and Cole straighten out some of the more obscure curlicues of Timony's songs, particularly on “Black Tiles,” where her mysticism is toned down to a psychedelic haze, and on “Something Came Over Me,” which may very well be the most direct and explosive she’s ever sounded. Likewise, Timony throws some curves into Weiss and Brownstein's angles on “Future Crimes” and “Boom,” preventing them from feeling too much like Sleater-Kinney songs. Wild Flag acknowledges the past but doesn’t live there, and some of the best moments don’t sound much like what the bandmembers have done before. The terrific opening track “Romance” is poppy, muscular, and way more immediate than any of the band’s ‘90s projects, while “Short Version” mixes a powerful riff that echoes Guns N’ Roses' “Sweet Child O’ Mine” with Krautrock-ish rhythm, sweet backing harmonies and barbed vocals. Most importantly, the band sounds like it’s having contagious fun making music, and songs like “Glass Tambourine” and “Electric Band” reflect that in their lyrics. On the other hand, “Racehorse” proves that words are secondary when a band’s chemistry is as palpable as this is. Wild Flag isn’t just an exciting debut and one of 2011’s most dynamic rock records, it proves that a group is truly super when the personalities involved work together and have fun.

Wild Flag, WILD FLAG
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